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The ABCs of ATVs

July/Aug. 2009 California Country magazine

ATV training and safety are essential to managing these four-wheelers.



Since all-terrain vehicles zoomed into popularity more than 20 years ago, people of all ages have gotten their kicks on these all-wheel-drive dynamos. ATVs can climb hills, bump over rocks, dig through mud and take you just about anywhere.

They can also kick back pretty hard when a rider isn’t old enough, experienced enough or careful enough to manage a four-wheeler’s considerable speed and power.

That’s why getting the right ATV training, wearing necessary safety gear and operating an ATV correctly are essential to keep fast four-wheelers from becoming bucking broncos.

Youngsters are especially vulnerable to flipping, tipping or falling off ATVs. In fact, riders under age 15 are much more likely than older operators to be injured enough to need emergency room treatment.

Kids are involved in about one-third of all ATV-related deaths and injuries treated in emergency rooms. Forty thousand riders under 16 years old were in ATV-injury accidents last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And 96 percent of riders never have taken safety training. Most who were injured were not wearing a helmet.

Even experienced ATV riders can lose control after hitting the wrong rut or miscalculating a climb. It’s important to wear good headgear, as head and neck injuries account for a high percentage of ATV-related deaths and serious injuries.

Some other ATV essentials:

  • Get training on how to operate an ATV safely.
  • Wear appropriate gear, including helmet and goggles.
  • Ride an ATV that is right for your age and size.
  • Don’t ride on public roads and paved surfaces. ATV tires are not designed for road travel.
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
  • Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Keep ATVs in good operating condition.

For information on the ATV Safety Institute’s ATV RiderCourse, visit www.atvsafety.org or call 800-887-2887. For ATV insurance information, contact a local agent representing Allied Insurance or Nationwide Insurance or visit www.nationwide.com/CFBF.

ATV insurance essentials
Protect your ATV with coverages available to California Farm Bureau members at discounted rates through Allied and Nationwide agents:

  • Collision: Damage to your ATV from a collision with another ATV, rocks, trees and other obstacles.
  • Comprehensive: Loss or damage from theft, fire, vandalism or other covered peril.
  • Property damage: Damage caused to another person’s property.
  • Bodily injury: Pays other people’s medical expenses if you’re at fault in an accident.
  • Uninsured motorist: Damage caused by uninsured or underinsured riders.
  • Medical payments for yourself and passengers regardless of who’s at fault in an accident.

John Valentine, CLU, CPCU, is sales director for Nationwide Insurance. He can be reached at 800-552-2437 ext. 4393 or valentj4@nationwide.com. Article contributed by Nationwide, which offers special rates on ATV insurance as well as auto and farm insurance for California Farm Bureau members.


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